Advocates for marijuana legalization in Delaware gathered March 5 outside Columbia Care’s Rehoboth location to protest the company’s opposition to a bill legalizing marijuana in Delaware.
House Bill 305, which would legalize marijuana in Delaware, was released from the House Appropriations Committee in February and is now ready to be considered for a full House vote. Even if the bill passes the House, before becoming law, it would need to pass through a Senate committee and then the full Senate before being sent to Gov. John Carney for his signature.The General Assembly returns to Legislative Hall this week after a month-long hiatus for budget discussions by the Joint Finance Committee.
A little more than a dozen people participated in the protest. Most were carrying posters telling motorists to honk if they were in favor of legalization, that smoking a plant shouldn’t be a crime or that big business shouldn’t be involved with growing marijuana. Hempy, the human-sized pot leaf mascot for advocacy group Delaware NORML, was in attendance. There were at least two megaphones being used.
Lillyanne Ternahan helped organize the event. She said Columbia Care, one of four medical marijuana providers for the state, but the only one with dispensaries in all three counties, recently hired a lobbyist to derail the passage of HB305. She said the reason Columbia Care is against HB305 is because the legislation doesn't give priority to the companies running the medical marijuana dispensaries already in existence. They want to be able to have a monopoly similar to the one they have on medical marijuana, she said.
Ternahan said if the bill passes, she’s going to try and get one of the microbusiness licenses it would make available. The license would allow for a cultivation facility or product manufacturing, so long as at least 51 percent of ownership and control is by one or more individuals who have resided in Delaware for at least five of the preceding 10 years; the intention is to employ no more than 10 people; the facility is not larger than 2,500 square feet; and there would be no more than 1,000 marijuana plants each month.
Ternahan organized a similar rally roughly one year ago, also in front of Columbia Care. That rally was organized to protest high prices and not enough medicine selection. At the recent rally, she said not much has changed on this issue either.
Columbia Care has plenty of medicine in storage to place on the shelves of its dispensaries, but they don’t do it, because it means they can keep the prices artificially high, she said.
Representatives from Columbia Care could not be reached for comment.
Ternahan said HB305 supporters will hold another rally at 2 p.m., Thursday, March 10, at Legislative Hall in Dover.